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Thread: Using Nuclear power to make Methanol

  1. #1 Using Nuclear power to make Methanol 
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    I'm wondering what the practicality would be of building ocean bound nuclear power plants to react and create Methanol. Just looking at it. Sea water near the surface has a higher concentration of CO2 in it that the air does, so it might be easier to separate it out of sea water rather than air. CO2 + Hydrogen gets you Methanol. Certainly there are some rather steep losses. I don't remember the numbers now, but I'm thinking less than 1/4 of the energy is retained. (I crunched them in another thread a good while back.)


    However, on the upside, the risk to human populations in the event of a melt down is very small, because you can just sink the boat. The ocean can absorb a failure or two if these events are not very frequent.

    Another upside is ease of cooling. I don't know if the turbine could work with salt water, but I doubt it. So there'd need to be some use of fresh water. Either that or desalinization.

    Are any of the "wonder tech's" like Thorium good enough that they could be used to generate power at a price low enough to overcome the energy losses? I mean, if you're losing so much that you only retain 1/4 of your energy, but at the same time the energy itself only costs you 1/5 the normal amount, then you're still making a profit in spite of the losses.


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    Assuming that such technology would work well, where would you put it so it had enough water passes through to extract the CO2 but doesn't do widespread local and regional environmental damage. I'm highly skeptical of any point collection schemes other than at the major source points such as large coal power plants. You are still left with the question of what do with the CO2 once it's collected.


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    I'm not sure getting the CO2 would be the crucial issue here, getting it from sea water not necessarily the easiest option and therefore this idea seems to complicate the building of major energy infrastructure unnecessarily. As for converting energy into methanol or other combustible fuels, there's something to be said for that, particularly for transportation; it's the abundant clean energy part, abundant and low cost enough to make the electrically driven chemical production of combustible fuels cost effective that's the issue. Producing methane as an energy storage medium - for large scale stationary storage is something I've read about recently, potentially usable as transport fuel as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Another upside is ease of cooling. I don't know if the turbine could work with salt water, but I doubt it. So there'd need to be some use of fresh water. Either that or desalinization.
    Nuclear submarine is the perfect example of how to do it. But I think nuclear reactors in submarine is designed to power the submarine itself and didn't produce enough excess energy for commercial use. Also, IMO, such reactor run cooler than a commercial reactor because they aim it to be safe and because they didn't need to maximize its efficiency (heat engine (ie: turbine) are efficient at high temperature; this make commercial nuclear powerplant scary).
    Last edited by msafwan; October 14th, 2012 at 04:08 AM.
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  6. #5  
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    The idea of a floating nuclear power plant is feasible, and was almost built by Offshore Power Systems in the 1970s. It was a victim of 3 Mile Island and the rash of cancellations of new nuclear plants that followed.Offshore Power Systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    It says a russian company will be building them.

    One advantage is that it can be towed back to russia for waste disposal! That's a really ++ for any country that use it.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Assuming that such technology would work well, where would you put it so it had enough water passes through to extract the CO2 but doesn't do widespread local and regional environmental damage. I'm highly skeptical of any point collection schemes other than at the major source points such as large coal power plants. You are still left with the question of what do with the CO2 once it's collected.
    In this case, the goal of the collecting the CO2 is not to capture it. Just make Methanol out of it. Methanol burns really clean. You can even use it indoors if you're using a power cell. No safety or inhalation hazard to the people around you.

    However, in terms of CO2 it's just a break even technology. You release exactly as much as you originally captured.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    In this case, the goal of the collecting the CO2 is not to capture it. Just make Methanol out of it.
    Got ya.
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